PoBoys New Orleans: What it is, History and Johnny’s Po-Boys

New Orleans is known to have some of the most unique foods created in all of the US that are native to this city. This was one of my missions, to try as much local New Orleans food as possible. And there’s nothing better than starting with a staple famous food: New Orleans Po-Boys.

Naturally, I had to try it in one of the best restaurants around, Johnny’s Po Boys Restaurant! This is arguably one of the best po’boys in the entire city.

Working with NOLA CVB, we pinpointed the top choices for local eats. Since I was traveling New Orleans with my boys alone, fine dining—or anything that required a lot of waiting time—would have been a too challenging. Gratefully, the majority of the restaurants internationally known for the particular foods we wanted to try offered are quick and easy eats, and, most importantly, fun and tasty ones too.

the best roast beef po boys in New Orleans
We all loved this dressed roast beef po-boy, filled with lettuce and a memorable sauce.

What are Po Boys in New Orleans?

  • It is a traditional submarine sandwich from Louisiana.
  • It consists of meat, usually roast beef, or fried seafood served on baguette-like New Orleans French bread.
  • The traditional versions are served hot and include fried shrimp and oysters.
  • A “dressed” po’boy has lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise. Onions are optional.

Recommended Read: Thing to do In New Orleans With Kids

A Bit of History about the Po Boys New Orleans

In the late 1800s, fried oyster sandwiches on French loaves were known in New Orleans and San Francisco as “oyster loaves,” a term still in use. The sandwich was alternately called a “peacemaker” or “La Mediatrice.”

A popular local theory claims that “po’ boy,” as specifically referring to a type of sandwich, was coined in a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benny and Clovis Martin.

In 1929, during a four-month strike against the streetcar company, the Martin brothers served their former colleague free sandwiches.

The Martins’ restaurant workers jokingly referred to the strikers as “poor boys”. As the men came into the restaurant, they would say “Here comes another ‘poor boy’ man”. And so, the po-boy became a signature part of New Orleans cuisine.

Recommended Read: New Orleans History

a dressed shrimp po boy in New Orleans
This shrimp po’boy may not look like much, but when you sample them from a range of places you learn that looks don’t matter when finding the best po’boy in town.

Po Boy Festival

Each year there is a festival in New Orleans dedicated to the Po’ Boy, the Oak Street Po’Boy Festival. It’s a one-day festival that features live music, arts, and food vendors with multiple types of po’ boys.

It’s held in mid-November along a commercial strip of Oak Street in the city’s Carrollton neighborhood.

Our first restaurant to taste was the famous and historic Johnny’s Po Boys. And can you guess what they specialize in?

Po Boys! (And lots more)

Johnnys Po-Boys New Orleans Is Full of History and Fun Facts

What I loved most about this restaurant, was that it’s an order-at-the-counter style place. That means you can see what is being made, and simply order there and the food comes out too quickly.

johnny's po boy new orleans

Facts about Johnny’s Po Boys

  • Johnny’s Po-boys is the oldest family-owned PO-boy restaurant in New Orleans.
  • They have received accolades from some of the finest institutions in the country for having among the best po’boys in New Orleans. Accolades have ranged from Good Housekeeping’s top 100 value restaurants in the United States to Rand McNally’s Best of the Road.
  • Following Katrina, Johnny’s, the city’s oldest family-owned po-boy restaurant, re-opened its doors on October 31st, 2005, in an effort to help rebuild the city. The first restaurant to open after the hurricane’s destruction.

johnny's po boy

History of  Johnny’s Po Boy, New Orleans

  • Johnny’s Po-Boys is a New Orleans French Quarter Landmark. Established in 1950.
  • Located in the heart of the French Quarter at 511 St. Louis Street.
  • The original owners were Mr. Johnny and Ms. Betty De Grusha
  • It was a grocery store and sandwich shop at 506 Chartres.
  • In 1950, to keep up with expanding business, Johnny and Betty moved to their current location.
  • When Johnny’s first started, Mr. Johnny fed the workers on the River, the Courthouse, Jax Brewery, Royal Orleans, locals, and the tourists.
  • During those days the restaurant opened at 7:00 a.m. and closed sometimes at 10:00 p.m.
  • Their menu had: Red Beans & Rice, Gumbo, Fried chicken, Meatballs & Spaghetti, and Hamburger Steak with grilled onions. These meals are still offered today.

Video Fun

Information About Visiting Johnny’s Po Boys

Phone: 504-524-8129

Address: 511 Saint Louis Street, French Quarter, New Orleans, LA

Hours: 8am – 4:30pm every day

Last Updated on February 6, 2024

2 thoughts on “PoBoys New Orleans: What it is, History and Johnny’s Po-Boys

  1. Those po-boys look delicious. Hope you enjoyed your time in New Orleans!

  2. I am trying to find out when Johnny’s was closed sometime after 2008 and 2025. It was being remodeled maybe after a fire. I am just trying to pinpoint my last trip to eat the best Po’Boy on the planet. The street in front of St. Louis Park was torn up in preparation for a new line for the street car. Thank you so much. Can’t wait to come back.

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